Hamilton’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) will get some additional financial support from the province in an announcement today that the government will spend more than $4 million over two years to expand Mobile Crisis Response Teams. The money will allow Police services to increase their capacity to respond to calls from individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis. The investment will enable police services to add mental health and addictions crisis workers to existing Mobile Crisis Response Teams.
One of the first in Ontario, Hamilton’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) is a partnership between Mental Health Workers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare and specially-trained officers of the Hamilton Police Service. Now in its 25th year, the program serves the residents of the City of Hamilton who have serious mental health issues and are in crisis. The Hamilton team will receive $150,000 under today’s announcement.
Crisis Triage and Support Workers and other clinicians answer calls on the COAST crisis line. An intake assessment is completed, in which the person is asked about the situation, mental health concerns, and potential risks. Support, recommendations, and a plan for intervention are developed together, which could include mobile outreach.
The COAST mobile team consists of a Mental Health Professional and a plain-clothes Police Officer, driving an unmarked car. The team can visit a residence, workplace, school, or any safe location to complete an assessment. A plan is then developed which may include reviewing skills and safety planning, as well as making connections to other supports such as outpatient programs or Barrett Centre.
If the situation cannot be safely managed in the community, the COAST team will assist the person to hospital for further assessment and treatment.
The person will be referred to other community programs and agencies when appropriate. With consent, assessment information is shared with family doctors/primary care clinicians. Ongoing bridging support by telephone is offered to the person, as well as to families and caregivers as needed.
“Mobile Crisis Response Teams are best positioned to respond to people experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis and to de-escalate situations that could pose a risk to public safety,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “At a time when police are increasingly confronted with the need to assist vulnerable people in acute crisis situations, this new grant program will expand their ability to deliver appropriate services and underlines our government’s commitment to public safety.”